A few of the city’s canine employees are finding a unique way to give back to the community. On the first and third Saturday of each month the Fairlawn-Bath Branch of the Akron Public Library holds Paws for Reading Program at 10:30 a.m.
According to librarian Jessica Ellis the purpose of the program is to give kids a comfortable medium to mold their reading skills. Children come in, sit down with a dog of their choice, and read a book to them. The library provides a hefty book selection.
And the participants are not just reading to any dogs. The library has pulled from a wide selection of service dogs such as search and rescue, therapeutic dogs, and police dogs. Ellis said that these dogs serve children in a way that no human can.
“There are no barriers,” Ellis said. “A dog is not going to correct them so the comfort level is high.”
Ellis said her son, who is in first grade, enjoys the program. She said he enjoys reading but oftentimes struggles when it comes to reading at home.
“When he reads at home it’s kind of a drag,” Ellis said. ”But he comes here and he reads no problem.”
Ellis said that there is usually between three to six dogs for the kids to choose from. In the event that there are more kids than dogs, one dog might have a multitude of kids reading to them.
“We always tell them the dogs can multitask and can listen to more than one story,” Ellis said.
The origin of the program started in the Richfield Branch. Ellis thought it might be a good idea to apply the program to Fairlawn residents. There is no registration required for the program, the kids simply have to show up between 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and pick a dog. Although the program is only used in a few branches, Ellis said there are future plans to make it widespread.
“I think they’re hoping by summer to have every branch have a Paws for Reading program.”